ĎThere are laws to protect animals, but none for mení

On International Men's Day on Monday, a group of men came out on the streets of Lucknow, demanding the formation of National Commission for Men and a Men's Welfare Ministry. It is urgent, as the government is trying to introduce 'irretrievable breakdown of marriage' (IrBM) as a ground for divorce under the Marriage Law (Amendment Bill 2010) which could be easily exploited by many a woman, they said.

"Numerous men have to face harassment every day due to misuse of laws, especially those passed for women empowerment," said Brijesh Awasthi, member of the Army Against Dowry Misuse in India, which organised the rally. Sporting black ribbons across their mouths, they said a protest by a man at home is sufficient for him to become the victim of the misuse of laws. "We are not saying that crimes are not committed against women, but often, just by the mere allegation of a wife, a husband is put to jail," said Awasthi, who sought a divorce from his wife in 1996 but the case is still in court.

This is true for Alok Aggarwal, who says his wife ran away with a paramour. "In 2003 an FIR was lodged against me by my wife, alleging that I harassed her for dowry which included a car," he says. He had to spend a week in jail, he says.

"However, upon advice by people, she retracted her statements and we got back together. Two years later, the friction resurfaced and I filed for divorce, only to face an FIR again and spend another 15 days in jail," he says. As if that was not enough, he returned from jail to find his house occupied by in-laws, he says, adding that he hasn't been to that house in four years.

"Worse, even if police sees through the allegations, they give you the options of a bribe or jail," said Inderanil Bhattacharya, who is also facing Dowry Act and Domestic Violence cases.

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